‘Law & Order: SVU’ Fans Discuss Which Character’s Death Broke Their Hearts

by Suzanne Halliburton

If we’re watching a show like Law & Order: SVU, you know each show probably will feature some sort of heinous crime. Death is a given. It’s as expected as the dun-dun.

But sometimes, a particular killing just hits you in the gut, as you tell yourself, “this is a fictional TV show,” to keep from going to total mush. And with the season 24 premiere of Law & Order: SVU still weeks away, fans pondered which deaths in the series’ long history rocked their TV world.

If you look at Reddit, there’s a long, spirited discussion this week on SVU deaths. At the top of the list? RIP, Sister Peg. Everyone still misses you. Charlayne Woodard, as Sister Peg, made eight appearances as the Catholic nun from 2002 through 2011. She worked in the neighborhoods and didn’t wear a habit. Sister Peg helped the homeless. She also aided drug addicts and prostitutes. A lot of times, she’d be a go-between for Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and witnesses and victims.

And Sister Peg was a victim herself. Phony psychic Sebastian Ballentine (Martin Short) kidnapped her. But she survived. She was assaulted by John Victor Bodine. But again, Sister Peg was a hearty soul.

But an episode called “Smoked” was too much for her. And her death played a big part in how Meloni left Law & Order: SVU. (Writers needed a reason to cut Stabler out of the series after NBC said no to Meloni’s contract demands). To think, Sister Peg was collateral damage.

Charlayne Woodard played Sister Peg for eight episodes on Law & Order: SVU. Her death in the season 12 finale devastated fans. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Dramatists Guild of America)

In this episode, a rape victim was set to testify. But she was shot and killed in front of her daughter, Jenna, while the two shopped together. Luke Ronson, a famous hair stylist, was the suspected rapist and cops thought he killed Annette, the victim. Luke also volunteered at a homeless shelter, cutting hair for free. Sister Peg also helped out at the shelter. As it turned out, Luke hired a homeless man (Skinner) to scare Annette. Instead, Skinner killed her. Skinner also was working as a snitch for the ATF. About the gun he used. An ATF agent gave it to him, obviously not to commit a crime.

All three men ended up in the holding cell. Sister Peg was there as well. She’d come to the station to drop off a piece of evidence. Jenna walked into the office with a gun. She shot at her mother’s non-repentant killer and ends up shooting two of the men in the cell and Sister Peg. Stabler shot Jenna, a teenager, before she could continue shooting. Jenna died in Stabler’s arms, while Benson couldn’t save Sister Peg.

And Sister Peg’s death crushed Law & Order: SVU fans.

“I still believe Sister Peg’s death was unnecessary,” wrote one Reddit user. Another replied: “Yes, (because) she was such a terrific reoccurring character.”

Still another wrote: “Sister Peg, she served a really influential role as a point person between the detectives and vulnerable populations. They killed her and never mentioned her again!!!!!”

And if you follow Law & Order: SVU, you know what happens next. It was the end of Stabler as Benson’s partner. “Smoked” was the finale of season 12. When season 13 started, Captain Cragen called in Benson to tell her that Stabler was suspended, pending a review of Internal Affairs. Stabler then resigned, all off camera.

But unlike Sister Peg, Stabler got new life. He’s now starring in Law & Order: Organized Crime. Both SVU and Organized Crime premiere Sept. 22.